Elderly Hasidic cult members arrested for 30-year-old murders

The three suspects were reportedly part of a so-called “Modesty Patrol” that operated in Jerusalem in the 1980s and 1990s.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Three ultra-Orthodox (haredi) members of the Berland Hasidic community were arrested Sunday morning in Jerusalem, on suspicion of their involvement in a murder and disappearance which occurred over three decades ago.

Although there is a gag order on the case barring details about the investigation and the suspects, Channel 12 reported that the arrests are linked to the unsolved murder of Avraham Edri, whose body was found in the Ramot Forest in 1990, and the disappearance of Nissim Sheetrit in 1986.

Police have not specified how the three suspects, two men and a woman in their 60s, are believed to have been involved with the incidents.

But according to Channel 12, the three suspects were part of a so-called “Modesty Patrol” that operated in Jerusalem in the 1980s and 1990s.

The group would sometimes use violence to intimidate those who they felt were not adhering to religious norms in the public sphere, especially around issues such as Shabbat desecration, immodestly dressed women, and fraternization between unrelated men and women.

Police said that Edri, whose body was found with clear signs of trauma from a violent attack, was likely killed by the Modesty Patrol over suspicions that he was having an affair with a married haredi woman.

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Sheetrit, Maariv reported, had filed a complaint with the local police in Jerusalem about aggressive behavior from the Modesty Patrol.

Members of the group, posing as fellow students, allegedly approached Sheetrit, who was 17 years old at the time, at the yeshiva where he studied.

Luring him with a promise that a prominent rabbi was interested in speaking with him, Sheetrit followed the men to another location, where he was ambushed and physically attacked.

After being beaten up, the men warned him to withdraw his police complaint against the group.

Sheetrit was reported missing four months later, and no trace of him has ever been found.

In February 1989, members of a Modesty Patrol were sentenced to jail time for plotting to bomb the offices of a secular newspaper which was distributed in the haredi city of Bnei Brak.